Ad description

A direct mailing to a business, received on 15 March 2024, sent in an envelope with the text “PRIVATE” at the top left and “IMPORTANT INFORMATION” at the bottom right. It featured a ‘scales of justice’ logo at the bottom left. The back of the envelope included a return address for Avensure Ltd.

The enclosed letter featured a crest at the top of the letter with the text “HR24 ADVISORY BUREAU STOCKPORT & MANCHESTER”, stated “Confidential” above the name and address of the recipient, and “Private & Confidential” with a reference number to the right-hand side. Large, bold text then stated “Government Announcement”, under which text stated “You are invited to attend an important training update for leading business owners in Stockport and Manchester. The government has announced an unprecedented number of new employment law changes for 2024 […]. It is essential that you know what amendments are coming (and when) so you can prepare and protect your business. To ensure you are fulfilling your legal obligations, we highly recommend you join us for the ‘2024 Employer Action Plan’ workshop […]”. Bullet points listed topics that would be covered, followed by the text “Cost: Due to the government announcement, there will be no charge on this occasion”, details of the event, and contact information for securing a place at the event.

Small text at the bottom of the page stated “The HR24 Advisory Bureau is a trading name of Avensure Ltd”, followed by details of its Company House and VAT registrations and registered office address. A second page included a logo for the CPD Certification Service, client reviews, and “Key Employment Law Stats”.


The complainant challenged whether the ad was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and made clear its commercial intent.


Avensure Ltd t/a The HR24 Advisory Bureau explained that the letter was an invitation to attend a free seminar/training update on employment law changes and other employment and HR matters. It did not promote any product or service which required payment from the recipient.

They said the envelope and letter were marked “Private” and “Confidential” because the contents were intended for the addressee only. They believed the use of the ‘scales of justice’ logo on the envelope was not misleading because their business involved justice and there were solicitors and barristers working for the company. The logo was very generic and was used by many different businesses that provided different services. The envelope also confirmed Avensure’s details; recipients were therefore made aware of the sender’s details without needing to open the envelope.

They said the ‘crest’ at the top of the letter was The HR24 Advisory Bureau’s logo and clearly stated that name. They believed recipients therefore would immediately be aware of who the letter was from. They additionally highlighted that the footer of the letter confirmed their company details, registered name, number and office address.

They said the letter did not claim that The HR24 Advisory Bureau and/or Avensure were affiliated to any public or other body, or that the material had been authorised by such a body. The wording “Government Announcement” referred to the event providing education on the latest government updates on employment regulations and law. The opening paragraph was clear that the letter’s purpose was to invite recipients to attend a training update.



The CAP Code required that marketing communications were obviously identifiable as such. They must not materially mislead or be likely to do so, and must make clear their commercial intent.In order for direct mailings to be obviously identifiable as marketing communications, recipients should be able to tell from the envelope itself that it was a marketing communication. The ASA considered recipients might expect, from the generic ‘scales of justice’ logo and the text “PRIVATE” and “IMPORTANT INFORMATION” on the front of the envelope, that the information enclosed related to the law in some way. However, those elements did not make clear that it was a marketing communication. We further considered that including a return address on the back of the envelope was not sufficient to make clear that it contained a marketing communication. The ad therefore breached the Code.Notwithstanding that the envelope did not make clear that it was an ad, we also reviewed the letter.

The body of the letter was prominently headed “Government Announcement”. We considered that implied the mailing was from a public body and contained an official announcement. We considered that impression was reinforced by the statements that the letter was “Private” and “Confidential”, which was uncommon phrasing in commercial communications, and its use of imperative language such as “It is essential that you know what amendments are coming […]” and “To ensure you are fulfilling your legal obligations, we highly recommend you join us […]”.

We acknowledged that the crest-like logo at the top of the page included the name “HR24 ADVISORY BUREAU STOCKPORT & MANCHESTER”. However, we considered many recipients would not be aware that this was a trading name of the business Avensure Ltd. Because Avensure’s company information, including that ‘The HR24 Advisory Bureau’ was its trading name, was presented in small print at the bottom of the first page, recipients were unlikely to have seen it before reading the main body of the letter. Similarly, client reviews on the second page which were more in common with commercial communications would not have been seen before recipients formed an impression of the letter based on the main body content. We therefore considered it was not clear that the letter was sent by a commercial entity offering a service, but instead implied that it had been sent by a public body.

We concluded that the ad was not identifiable as a marketing communication and did not make clear its commercial intent.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 and 2.3 (Recognition of marketing communications), and 3.1 (Misleading advertising).


The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Avensure Ltd t/a The HR24 Advisory Bureau to ensure its marketing communications were obviously identifiable and made clear their commercial intent, including by ensuring that envelopes made clear they contained a marketing communication.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

2.1     2.3     3.1    

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